Dom Hamel's solid start, Jeremy Rodriguez's go-ahead RBI lift Mets to win over Nationals in Spring Breakout game

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Mets beat the Washington Nationals, 4-2, Friday afternoon in their MLB Spring Breakout game – a battle between teams made up of each club’s top prospects – at Clover Field.

Jeremy Rodríguez, a 17-year-old infielder whom the Mets acquired from Arizona last summer for Tommy Pham, hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the fifth inning of the seven-inning game, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead they did not relinquish.

Calvin Ziegler, a 21-year-old righty, finished the game with a scoreless seventh….

Here are the takeaways...

-The Mets got their first run in the first inning with a little help from the sun, which appeared to be difficult in right field early in the game.

With one out, Drew Gilbert lofted a fly ball to right that James Wood could not track and it plopped to the ground behind him. Gilbert raced into second. He went to third on a deep fly to right by Luisangel Acuña that reached the warning track – there was a loud crack when Acuña hit the ball. But Ryan Clifford, a lefty hitter, laced a liner into the left-field corner to plate the first run of the game. Clifford's double had an exit velocity of 102.2 miles per hour.

-Mets starter Dom Hamel, a third-round pick in 2021, allowed one run and two hits in two innings of work, but his mid-90s fastball, which can get a tick or two faster, looked sharp. He gave up a leadoff single in the first inning but fanned the next two hitters with fastballs both clocked at 96 mph and then got a fly to right to end the frame.

-In the second, Hamel had a spate of wildness that helped lead to a Nats run. With one out, he walked Trey Lipscomb on four pitches and Lipscomb stole second. One out later, TJ White smoked a 3-2 pitch to right that took one hop and then hit the wall, scoring Lipscomb. Hamel didn’t wobble though, getting Darren Baker – Dusty’s son – to ground to short to finish his outing. Hamel struck out two, walked one and threw 42 pitches (27 strikes).

-Several times during the game, there were challenged balls-and-strikes calls, which elicited some grumbling from fans. The second time it happened, Washington catcher Drew Millas challenged a ball call with Mets prospect Jett Williams at the plate. It was overturned, resulting in Williams being called out on strikes.

-Tyler Stuart, a 24-year-old righty who was a sixth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi in 2022, delivered a terrific inning of relief in the third, getting three ground-ball outs from the top of the Washington order, including highly-touted outfielder Dylan Crews.

Blade Tidwell, who followed Stuart, allowed three hits and a run in the fourth inning as Washington pulled ahead, 2-1, and then Nolan McLean threw a one-hit fifth. Brandon Sproat threw a scoreless inning of relief, too, striking out two.

-The Mets tied the score at 2-2 in the fourth. Clifford drew a walk, went to second on a wild pitch and scooted home on Kevin Parada’s single into right field.

-Rodríguez’s key hit knocked in Marco Vargas and was a nifty referendum on two trades the Mets made last year – Vargas was part of the David Robertson trade with the Marlins. Vargas, a left-handed hitting infielder, had two walks in three at-bats on the afternoon.


Upcoming schedule

The Mets travel to face the Houston Astros on Saturday at 6:05 p.m.

New York has not yet announced its pitching plan for the game.